Shoreline Outing Summary: Comox Peninsula Tip, June 5th. 2019

Hey Everyone,

We had 19 members and a little assistant show up at the very tip of the Comox peninsula. Some observations, follow ups and a species list can be found below.
A sluggish leopard
The spotted leopard dorid, Dialula odonoghuei was found affixed to the underside of a cobble. This distinctive nudibranch feeds on the sponges that encrust rocks in the middle-to-lower intertidal. How? Nudibranchs like their brethren the chitons and the gastropods have a specialized apparatus, the radula that can be used to rasp and file at their prey. In places, we saw extensive mats of a reddish-range encrusting sponge. The nudibranchs, chitons and snails are the ones hoovering up the algae and sponges that typically encrust these rocks. How can anyone determine what exactly is being eaten by the spotted leopard dorid? Patient observation by SCUBA-equipped biologists is one option, but another is to collect their fecal pellets and look at the collection of spicules, frustules, tests and the like to determine diet. This has been done for a southern relative of our local species, but never for Dialula odonoghuei. Any takers?
Chitons lined & mossy grazing with a furor that is insistent and bossy
There were a number of different chitons out along the shore. A number of them were members of the genus Mopalia, the mossy chitons, which has a fleshy girdle that encases a large portion of the mineralized valves or plates that are the distinguishing feature of the order Polyplacophora (many-plate-bearer). In Mopalia, the fleshy girdle, in addition to being extensive, is ornamented with large hairs and other odd bumps and spines. Locally, there are a number of species within this genus which vary from very hairy (Mopalia muscosa, the mossy chiton) to just vaguely so (Mopalia hindsii, Hinds’ chiton). Like most chitons, these species are deathly afraid of exposure in the light, thus their daytime hiding spots under the rocks. At night, they come out to graze. Tom Carefoot has put together a wonderful summary of research on the feeding behaviour of the genus Mopalia in our region. I pasted above a pie chart taken from his website (in-turn repurposed from a paper from the 1960s) that shows the gut contents on the Mossy Chiton, Mopalia muscosa. 
We saw a lovely juvenile lined chiton of the Genus Tonicella. This genus diverse in our area, but easy to recognize by its dramatic, bright colors and linear patterns. We saw an example of one of these small juvenile chiton rolling up such that its vulnerable undersides were abutting one another, with the plated surrounding the entire enrolled individual. This is presumably a protective response. The main predators of chitons in the intertidal are purple sea stars (Pisaster ochreus) and a potpouri or birds, fishes and otters. Hard to imagine this defense being of any help to the smaller individuals, though the birds might appreciate the more streamlined bolus it provides.
Northern Kelp Crab Fashion
Group member Barbara could not help but marvel over the giant living kelp crab that had a significant population of living barnacles on its carapace. So symmetrical was the arrangement that it could be mistaken for a thicket of regal hair. This kelp crab, Pugettia producta, is part of a grouping of crabs that includes a bunch of species known as “decorator crabs”. These crabs have a veritable menagerie of algae and invertebrates affixed to their carapace as a means of camouflage for themselves. The kelp crab is not known to decorate itself, but perhaps tolerates this kind of taxing load for the same reasons.
A good online guide to local-ish species
Kathleen was trying to make sense of some seaweeds and asked that this Central Coast Biodiversity website be sent out. The guide is good and visual and pretty comprehensive if not entirely specific to the central island. It makes a good reference Start with the species guide if you are trying to figure out the identification or something. You can usually follow it through and learn a little about the biology, ecology and distribution.
Species List
As mentioned, observations are now being kept in iNaturalist. You can see pictures and IDs (at varying levels of confidence and resolution) here. I am also pasting a species list below, though I was not able to keep track of everything yesterday on account of so much being seen and so many people seeing it. If you have additions, corrections or deletions from the list, let me know.
Name Common Name
Sarcodiotheca gaudichaudii
Succulent Seaweed
Lithothamnion Encrusting Coralline Algae
Hildenbrandia Encrusting Red Algae
Sargassum muticum Japanese Wireweed
Family Ceramiaceae Filemntous Red Algae
Chondrus Irish Moss
Ulva Sea Lettuces
Fucus distichus Rockweed
Leathesia marina Sea Cauliflower
Neorhodomela larix Black sea pine
Homaxinella amphispicula
Dead Man’s Fingers
Ophlitaspongia pennata
Red Rock Sponge
Strongylocentrotus Purple/Green Sea Urchin
Sea cucumbers
Cucumaria miniata Orange Sea Cucumber
Eupentacta quinquesemita
Stiff-footed Sea Cucumber
Sea stars
Dermasterias imbricata
Leather Star
Pisaster ochraceus Ochre Sea Star
Order Ophiurida Brittle Star (Daisy?)
Tresus Gaper
Chlamys Scallop
Diaulula odonoghuei Spotted Leopard Dorid
Aeolidia Shaggy Mouse Nudibranch
Anthopleura elegantissima
Aggregating Anemone
Metridium Plumose anemone
Urticina Red Anemone
Mopalia ciliata Hairy Chiton
Mopalia muscosa Mossy Chiton
Tonicella Lined Chiton
Serpula columbiana Tube worm
Order polycladida Flatworm
Family Terebellidae Spaghetti Worms
Nereis sp. Clam worm
Family Polynoidae Scale worm
Schizoporella No common name
Bugula californica Spiral bryozoan
Cancer productus Red Rock Crab
Petrolisthes eriomerus
Porcelain crab
Lophopanopeus bellus
Black claw crab
Pagarus grainosimanus
Grainy Hermit Crab
Hemigrapsus nudus Purple Shore Crab
Hemigrapsus oregonensis
Green Shore Crab
Pugettia producta Northern Kelp Crab
Oligocottus maculosus
Tidepool Sculpin
Gobiesox maeandricus
Northern Clingfish
Anoplarchus purpurescens
High Cockscomb
Porichthys notatus Plainfin Midshipmen
Family Cottidae Green Tidepool Sculpin
Galium aparine Catchweed Bedstraw
Spiraea Spiraea
Ambrosia chamissonis
Silver Beachweed
Zostera marina Eelgrass
See you soon,
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Outing: Botany, Harewood Plain, May 7th 2019

Greetings all,

On May 27th eight of us were treated to a brilliant display of later spring flowers at Harewood Plains in Nanaimo.  Our target was to see the red-listed Hosackia pinnata ( formerly Lotus pinnatus) – bog bird’s foot trefoil – and we were not disappointed. The clumps growing in seeps on the rock appear to have been thriving, no doubt largely the result of the work of the “Friends of Harewood Plains” and others.  The substantial fine of $50,000 for being  caught with an ATV or the like in the area appears to be successful as a deterrent .  (The deep gouges made by ATVs and dirt bikes were clearly old.)  Apart from the Hosackia there was a splendid array of plants flourishing in the seeps and shaded areas (whatever was exposed on the rock in the open was already tinder dry).  Outstanding were the banks of interspersed monkey-flower, sea blush,  Menzies larkspur and montia, as well as carpets of Scouler’s popcorn flower, springbank and tomcat clovers, sedums and saxifrages. There was still some lingering camas ( both species) as well as death-camas, native buttercups  and the list goes on.  So timing was good – the Hosackia was in full bloom, with just a few seed heads starting to form.

On the way north we turned onto the Nanoose peninsula to Moorecroft Park which was pleasantly cool among the large fir, cedar and arbutus.   The park includes seashore Garry Oak habitat, which was cordoned off for restoration.  The open headlands are supposed to have the native cactus ( Opuntia fragilis) but it eluded us.

As I indicated before I am now fully occupied with the Strathcona Wilderness Institute’s summer programs.  There will soon be lots of subalpine spring plants in Paradise Meadows.  The marsh-marigolds and kalmia are already in bloom, along with a few shooting stars and the delicate gold thread (Coptis asplenifolia).  There will be the SWI “season opener “ walk at Paradise  Meadows on Sunday June 16th , exact time TBA.  And for the energetic, on July 8th there will be a long day- hike (20 k round trip, with some wet snow) up to Croteau and Circlet Lakes on the Plateau to see the Avalanche lilies (Erythronium grandiflorum) .  The first of them are just coming into bloom at Croteau (see photo taken on May 29th).

Since many of you are very familiar with the range of flowering plants up at Paradise Meadows, please consider leading a walk for SWI in July or August.  The tradition of interpretive Nature walks in Strathcona Park has been associated with CVN members since SWI was founded in 1996;  there are a few of us already involved, but SWI always welcomes more botanists, birders etc  to help  visitors  appreciate the natural beauty of Strathcona Park.

Finally, if any of you want to organize an outing, let me know and I can circulate the specifics to the group.

Have a good summer,  Alison

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Shoreline Outing Reports: Oyster Bay, May 8th, 2019

Hey Everyone,

Betty Brooks led a great outing around Oyster Bay Shoreline Park last Wednesday. We got a bit of history, a bit of botany and a lot of interesting invertebrates, including an octopus. Species list to the best of my recollection and notes follow below. Thanks again to Betty for leading and sharing all her knowledge about the park and its biota.
Death of an Octopus
The group was surprised to see a giant octopus withering on the sand flat. There were hints of an active nervous system so we attempted to take it to cooler, open water. Lest this was a particularly slovenly octopus that practiced self-desiccation, it seems we caught it at the end of it’s life as there was no reviving it. This species can grow to more than 50 kg and up to 6 m wide. We saw what was presumably a juvenile octopus, weighing maybe 5kgs and measuring maybe 1m across in life.
Nudibranchs on Parade
The sea slugs are perhaps the most tropical element of our local shorelines. Their dramatic forms, colours and patterns can stand out. We saw three different nudibranchs: (1) The hum-drum Barnacle nudibranch, laying thousands of eggs on the bottom of a wood piling. (2) The colourful Taylor’s Sea Hare (right image), which grazes the eel grass. (3) Ian G. put in the extra time to identify the spectacular 3″ long Dendronotus iris (left image). He sent a great photo and noted that this nudibranch likes to graze on the green burrowing anenome (Anthopleura artemesia), which we also saw.
Species Seen (please email with corrections and additions)
Species List- Oyster Bay Shoreline Park, May 7th, 2019
Deltoid Balsamroot
Balsamorhiza deltoidea
Strawberry Fragaria sp.
Lomatium nudicaule
Red-stemmed spring beauty
Claytonia rubra
Eelgrass Zostera marina
Ribbon Kelp Alaria marginata
Bull kelp (growing off piling)
Nereocystis lutkeana
Sea Lettuce Ulva sp.
Porphyra Pophyra sp.
Rockweed Fucus distichus
Polysiphonia Polysiphonia sp.
Smithora naiadum
Serpula columbiana
Clamworm Nereis sp.
Jointed Tube Worm
Spaghetti worm
Thelapis sp.
Burrowing Anemone
Anthopleura artemesia
Plumose Anemone
Metridium sp.
Graceful rock crab
Metacarcinus gracilis
Northern Kelp Crab
Pugetta producta
Brittle star Amphiodia sp.
Eccentric Sand Dollars
Dendraster excentricus
Barnacle Nudibranch
Onchidoris bilamellata
Taylor’s Sea Hare
Phyllaplysia taylori
Dendronotus Dendronotus iris
Moonsnail Neverita lewisii
Olive Snail Olivella biplicata
Bubble Snail ?
Sand clam Macoma sp.
Gaper Tressus sp.
Eel grass limpet
Lottia alveus
Tidepool Sculpin
Oligocottus maculosus
Citharichthys sordidus
Posted in Marine & Shoreline, Outings | Comments Off on Shoreline Outing Reports: Oyster Bay, May 8th, 2019

Botany Outing Report: May 2019

On May 6th at Kin Beach Park, six of us including Helen, spent a couple of hours uprooting more of the invasive Lamium galeobdolon (yellow archangel) as well as equally aggressive Aegopodium podagraria (goutweed) under the watchful eye of the archangel goddess, still perched in the bush above. Lunch was somewhat disturbed by the Snowbirds in practice before they were due to leave the Valley.  I had thought they were already gone!!  Then Helen took some of the group around the Park, to identify the spring flowers still in bloom, including Lomatium nudicaule (Indian consumption plant/barestem desert- parsley) and Delphinium menziesii (Menzies larkspur).

On May 13th eight of us meandered from Salmon Point through the gravel flats to Woodhus slough, with John B. in the lead, noting most of the late spring flowers in bloom.  Near the start of the trail Betty pointed out the remnants of a huge bank of Delphinium menziesii (Menzies larkspur) – much of it had been levelled in the development of a residential property. The plants were just coming into bloom – photo 1.  And amongst them and spreading along the trail towards the slough was Valerianella locusta – commonly known as corn salad, a garden escapee that seeds itself vigorously – photo 2, from my garden. John pointed out where later in the summer we should be able to see a large array of  Spiranthes romanzoffiana (ladies tresses).  Outstanding were the numbers of Lomatium nudicaule (Indian consumption plant/barestem desert parsley) all the way to the Slough and beyond. Close in the gravel flats the plants were mixed in with a pink sea of Plectritis congesta (seablush)- photo 3.  Other flowers of note included Eriophyllum lanatum (woolly sunflower/Oregon sunshine), Lathyrus japonica (beach pea), Toxicoscordion venenosum ( death camas), Rosa nutkana (Nootka rose) and Lonicera hispidula (hairy honeysuckle) – photo 4.

We then drove on to the Oyster Bay Shoreline Protection Park, primarily to see the red-listed Balsamorhiza deltoidea (deltoid balsamroot) in bloom.  The largest clump, somewhat protected from view by the low spreading branches of a Douglas fir, is flourishing happily – photo 5.  Unfortunately, one of the plants out in the open had been dug up, while the blooms had been cut from another.   We should have a sign made to inform the public that these plants are rare and should be left untouched.  When the OB Shoreline Protection Society came to an end, CVN did receive a portion of its remaining funds, so we as a group could ask the executive for funds towards a sign and approach the SRD with a proposal to place a sign in the park.

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